April 11, 2018, 11:47 pm
It’s over! The Wolves have finally done it! 14 years of agony and anguish, but also a little patience, has finally resulted in the elusive playoff appearance for a franchise that was down in the dumps for years.
The wait has been 14 years, but this process has been four years in the making. It started when the Wolves decided to reset the rebuild around Kevin Love and pivot to a rebuild around a younger core.
Andrew Wiggins was the first piece to the puzzle, acquired in the Love trade. Wiggins may not have developed as fast as some have liked, but he’s been a valuable contributor to this playoff squad.
Tonight Wiggins scored 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers, but most of all he made the two biggest free throws of his young career. In a two-point game in overtime, Wiggins was fouled and had a chance to put the Wolves up four points with 11 second. A 64 percent shooter on the season, he calmly sank both.
His defensive intensity was off the charts as well. He was fully engaged all night and held Wilson Chandler scoreless in 48 minutes. Fans have been waiting for this version of Wiggins to consistently arrive, and tonight he was everything they could ask for.
The next piece to the puzzle was drafting Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick. KAT has obviously been on monster in his three-year career and was able to feast on the Nuggets all night long. He finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and one steal on 12-of-19 shooting.
KAT is feasting! pic.twitter.com/lA7pUO5pJT
— Hoop Ball Wolves (@HoopBallWolves) April 12, 2018
Towns is one of the best big men in the NBA and is just 22 years old. He’s the face of the franchise and has a chance to become not just an all-time great in Wolves’ history, but in the entire NBA.
His averages of 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals and 1.5 3-pointers on 54.5 percent shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting and 42.1 3-point shooting is matched by few other big men, but his 82 games played is what sets him apart. KAT isn’t only a special talent, he’s as dependable as they come.
Building around two No. 1 overall picks is a great starting point for any franchise, but the Wolves weren’t satisfied. They had a number of other complimentary pieces, but desired to add one more major player in an era of “Big Three’s” and “Super Teams,” so they went out and got the final piece to the puzzle, Jimmy Butler.
Butler was able to transform this team from a 31 win team into a 47 win team, and a playoff squad. The Wolves had the biggest jump in the win column in the tough Western Conference thanks to him. Butler’s intensity and every day mentality didn’t grow on the Wolves right away, but when it mattered most the young Wolves who remained were ready.
The Wolves went out and got Butler for games just like this one, and he delivered with 31 points, five assists, five rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer on 10-of-21 shooting and 10-of-13 at the line.
After missing 17 games down the stretch, Butler returned just three games ago. He had been limited to 23 minutes in the first two games, but tonight he played 42. The Wolves went 3-0 in his return.
While Butler as the final piece to the puzzle, his addition attracted other veteran additions, namely Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Both vets stepped up huge tonight. Teague shows up more in the box score, but Gibson had perhaps the most important defensive effort of the season.
Coming off an injury in the last game that limited him to eighth minutes, Gibson was playing at less than 100 percent, but refused to slow down. Like Butler, Taj was brought in to do the dirty work and he was able to deliver there.
The game was tightly contested throughout, but the Wolves did hold a lead most of the way. In fact late in the fourth Minnesota build an eight-point lead and things were looking bleak for Denver. After a timeout the Nuggets came out on an 8-0 run to tie the game.
After trading baskets, the Wolves and Butler had a chance to win the game. His shot bounced off and the Nuggets controlled the ball with four seconds left. That’s where Taj came in with the most important steal of the season.
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) April 12, 2018
The game then went to overtime where the Wolves were able to handle their business, thanks to Wiggins’ free throws, and clinch their elusive playoff berth.
Wolves break NBA's longest postseason absence and holy crap is it about damn time pic.twitter.com/QSLQF3Tv9Q
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 12, 2018
The rebuild is finally complete. The first goal has been met. That doesn’t mean there isn’t more growth to come. This was step one in the process, now the Wolves have to make sure this becomes a regular occurrence.
Their matchup won’t be easy. With the Pelicans and Thunder winning, the Wolves are seeded eighth in the Western Conference and will face the top seed Houston Rockets.
Houston is 4-0 versus the Wolves this season, but each game Minnesota was able to get more and more competitive. The playoffs begin this weekend.
May 27, 2020, 9:06 pmAndre IguodalaSF, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.
Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:52 pmZach LaVineSG, Chicago Bulls
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.
The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:08 pmLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.
This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 10:07 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
On Tuesday afternoon, AmicoHoops reported (via Twitter) that an unidentified NBA GM told them the league has seriously discussed resuming the current NBA season on Wednesday, July 22.
Nothing has been officially announced, by any means, and this is the first we've heard of specific target date(s) from anyone. It's looking like the continuation of the season will occur in Orlando at Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has accommodations for at least some of what the NBA has planned for a resuming activity. As we have relayed numerous times recently, the next week or two seem to be a likely window for some decisions from Adam Silver and Co. at the NBA league office to start to come down. Stay tuned, hoops fans.
Source: AmicoHoops on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:47 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard announced on Tuesday evening that, in the event of a continuation of the NBA season, he would not be participating if the Blazers are scheduled to play 'meaningless games' with no shot at making the playoffs.
"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday morning. It's hard to blame him, as it is quite easy to see the potential situation from his point of view. There have been countless scenarios tossed around by the league office during the pandemic period, but nothing is set in stone so far. Lillard, for his part, is only interested in returning to action if there exists a legitimate shot for his Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. Fair enough.
Source: Yahoo! Sports
May 26, 2020, 8:34 pmJoel EmbiidC, Philadelphia Sixers
The Sixers, who have their practice facility located in nearby Camden, NJ, will allow voluntary player workouts at the facility beginning on Wednesday, raising the number of NBA teams who have been able to do so to 22.
The Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors are the final teams remaining who are unable to return to their practice facilities. The NBA seems to be inching ever so close to, at the very least, announcing a plan for a continuation of the current season. This next week or two should be very eventful on that front.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:26 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated on Tuesday that Clint Capela (right heel, plantar fasciitis) could very well play in the event of an NBA restart.
"Clint [Capela] says he's feeling better, and there's a possibility that we can get him back on the court," Schlenk said in a phone interview with ESPN. "Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us." Capela has yet to see the floor for the Hawks since he was acquired at the deadline from the Rockets, and one would have to surmise that he would be under a heavy minutes restriction if the league resumes and if the Hawks deem him healthy enough to give it a go. Still two big "ifs," but this is obviously positive news for the Hawks and potentially for fantasy owners who have managed to stash Capela in an injury slot this long.
May 26, 2020, 8:17 pmMohamed BambaC, Orlando Magic
Magic center Mo Bamba said on Tuesday that he's spent the quarantine period bulking up, self-proclaiming that he's put on close to 30 pounds of muscle.
Bamba said of his time off, ""I’ve worked my tail off during this quarantine. This is going to sound weird, but I put on probably about 28 pounds since quarantine (started)." He laughed and added that only about 2.5 percent of the weight he's put on is body fat. Bamba, along with many other NBA players, "can’t wait to get back out there and work" which is a great sign for the Magic and their fans. Jonathan Isaac is becoming more and more of a potential option for the team when/if the season is resumed as the days pass, so his presence would limit Bamba's chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team has yet to decide whether or not they want to play Isaac at all the rest of the season, regardless of the rumblings about a restart from the league office. However, this bulk-up on Bamba's part is nonetheless pretty impressive and is certainly noteworthy.
May 25, 2020, 3:16 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.
With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.
Source: Charlotte Hornets
May 25, 2020, 3:13 pmJon LeuerPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.
Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.
Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram